Softly, softly treatment for militant employers

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, November 17th, 2009 - 9 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

The continuing wave of lockouts continues to go unremarked by the government, the opposition and the media.

Over the past few months there has hardly been a week, when one, or even two, and sometimes even three lockouts have been going on around the country.

This week has been no different;

The continuing lockout of coal miners at Rotowaro by Solid Energy who are trying to continue contracting out and casualising the mining industry, now entering its third week, was yesterday joined by the employers at Amcor who have locked out their workforce in an effort to bludgeon their employees into giving up their smoko breaks and accepted manning levels. Even Parliament is threatening to lockout its security guards indefinitely if they take another 2-hour stirke.

Imagine the outcry if instead of a wave of lockouts by employers to cut wages and enforce layoffs and casualisation, there was a wave of strikes by workers for better wages and conditions, and permanent jobs.

The loud denunciations by MPs from the pulpit of parliament would be carried in banner headlines. Experts and commentators would be filling the radio airwaves and making guest appearances on TV. Editorialists would be spilling copious amounts of ink in the press, bemoaning “greedy workers”, “wrecker unionists” and my all time favourite “lazy featherbedders”, accusing these “overpaid and under-worked”, “industrial militants” of “holding the country to ransom”.

Fortunately, despite the tacit endorsement of their aggressive actions by the government and the media, the militant employers keep losing time and again as they come up against staunch workers.

9 comments on “Softly, softly treatment for militant employers”

  1. Daveo 1

    I think the media has been pretty fair in its reporting of recent industrial disputes, but you’re right that the commentariat has been virtually silent.

    I think it’s a basic issue of class here – most media commentators are in comfortable well-paid jobs and circulate among the elite.

    These people don’t know what it’s like to struggle to pay the bills, and their lack of a wider perspective leaves them blind to the current industrial offensive by militant employers and what it means for the people on the receiving end of it.

  2. Noko 2

    It’s even sadder when you don’t see Labour supporting them. Workers party, my ass.

    • Daveo 2.1

      Labour’s actually been pretty supportive, they were right behind the Open Country workers and the Telecom engineers and more recently they’ve stood by the striking workers at Parliamentary Services and the Ministry of Justice.

      I’ve been fairly critical of their record in government but I can’t fault them in their support for striking and locked out workers over the last year.

  3. The Voice of Reason 3

    It’s also sad when people don’t do research before making sweeping statements.

    The Labour Party has made comment about the lockouts, as a quick search of Red Alert would show. And even better, Labour Party MP’s joined the Dairy Workers’ picket line at Waharoa and I’m told Trevor Mallard attended a DWU Executive meeting to offer support and to listen to the Waharoa delegates’ experiences.

    Damien O’Connor has fronted the Miner’s picket down south, as well. So it would be fair to say Labour are far from silent and even better, they are actually active on the matter.

    • Sorry but “Comments” and PR stunts mean little to these workers. Where is Labour’s commitment to alternative economic policies that ensure secure jobs and a decent wage for workers?

      • The Voice of Reason 3.1.1

        Cool, LRO, it must mean so much for the workers to have you speaking for them. Did they vote you into that position or are you just assuming they’re happy that you know what matters to them?

        I guess you’re busy, so to save you the time it takes to google “labour policies”, I suggest you start here:

        http://labourparty.org.nz/policy/

        As you’ll see, it’s the 2008 version. If you really want to speak for workers, you could join the Labour party, put up the ideas you think labour needs, convince the rest of the party to adopt them, get them in the election manifesto and then convince NZ to vote for them.

        As I’ve said in earlier posts, now is the time to join Labour. There is no question that the next electoral platform could be radically different if there is an influx of new ideas from new members.

      • Noko 3.1.2

        leftrightout has hit the mark.

  4. prism 4

    This contracting out – making the worker assume a business-management role is a real stinker. It has been tried lately with the Telecom Chorus service people.
    They are responsible for a lot of the office work previously carried out by the company. Another thing that happens is that people don’t receive proper safety training, or aren’t under control from an employer and skip safety procedures and accidents happen as in a man and his teenage son killed by fumes in a vat they were cleaning.

    As for the miners – shades of Victor Hugo and the French miners ground down by piece work and responsible for shoring up their workplace in their own time. What conditions Chinese miners work under I don’t know but they have had big casualties. I have a book on Finton Patrick Walsh and he saw in the USA how some mining companies ground down their workers. I think one delegate was murdered. It is noticeable that neither under communism or capitalism can workers in dangerous occupations expect good conditions without pressure being brought to bear by them.

  5. Rob Carr 5

    Hopefully we can one day see the end to all lockouts. They are a vastly unfair way of dealing with workers and should not be allowed to happen let alone fall under the radar of the media. I have heard of quite a few myself but I am sure there are even more that slipped by…

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